ANITIX87 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 3281 posts, RR: 14 Posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3131 times:
I have been shooting aviation as a hobby for a few years now and I'd like to think I'm improving every time I go out. A great opportunity may present itself to me (hitting the ramp at a major airport), so I got to thinking about photography as a career.
I am currently at school for Mechanical Engineering but my passion for photography, and not to mention my passion for aviation, has been increasing exponentially for the last few years.
I was just wondering what the lifestyle is like. I know guys like Sam Chui post here and I was hoping to get some feedback from some of the best photogs in the industry. How do you get into this type of life-style? How do you establish yourself? Is it difficult? Are the benefits worth the costs and time it takes to become recognized? Is it possible to be something else by day, and an aviation photog by night? I ask the last question because I still plan on entering the engineering industry when I graduate, but would like to explore my options. I want to make the most out of my education while taking advantage of my passion for travel, photography, and aviation.
I realize this is a very vague thread, but my hopes are to see what the guys who give us the best shots think of life as a professional aviation photographer and to hear some great stories from your lives.
Thanks for taking the time to read this thread. Hopefully I'll one day join your ranks.
www.stellaryear.com: Canon EOS 50D, Canon EOS 5DMkII, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Canon 24-70 2.8L II, Canon 100mm 2.8L, Canon 100-4
N101AA From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 14 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3119 times:
There are no professional aviation photographers on this site. There is no way one could make enough money doing this so that it is your sole income. There are some people that have a freakin ton of money which enables them to go places and visit areas otherwise restricted to normal people. Those people don't make money doing this...they spend a ton of money to get the shots they do get.
You can't make a living out of this however, especially when there are so many photographers willing to give their photos away for free.
CalgaryBill From Canada, joined May 2006, 686 posts, RR: 6 Reply 11, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2982 times:
Quoting ANITIX87 (Thread starter): I am currently at school for Mechanical Engineering but my passion for photography, and not to mention my passion for aviation, has been increasing exponentially for the last few years.
Your background is similar to a friend of mine. He is an engineer as well (he specializes in oil field, but I'm not sure if it's chemical, process or mechanical) but he has a huge passion for photography. What to do? He combines the two - his specialization is photographing and video taping destructive and non-destructive testing (and the results of the testing) using all sorts of funky gear such as ultraviolet and infra-red. Not only does he put together video presentations and still image libraries of the lab's work, but he also uses the equipment for his personal projects - with his employer's support.
Scottieprecord From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 1363 posts, RR: 11 Reply 14, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 2952 times:
I'm a first-year photojournalism major right now.. figured that'd be my best shot of actually being a professional aviation photographer. And if aviation doesn't work out, I'll get in with traditional journalism.
NIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 15, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 2940 times:
Quoting N101AA (Reply 1): There are no professional aviation photographers on this site. There is no way one could make enough money doing this so that it is your sole income. There are some people that have a freakin ton of money which enables them to go places and visit areas otherwise restricted to normal people. Those people don't make money doing this...they spend a ton of money to get the shots they do get.
Wow, tell us how you really feel. Again Tis asked some simple questions. He didn't need a lesson on the caste system here or a tirade of your professional jealousy.
Quoting Fly747 (Reply 9): That was my reaction as well.
There are pros on this site alright, it doesn't necessarily mean that a.net is their primary income
I think this sums it up the best. You may be able to make a nice sum if you can hook up with a publication or something but for the most part you would need a steady source of income. Whether that be other forms of photography or another job all together.
ZuluLima From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 278 posts, RR: 3 Reply 17, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2878 times:
Quoting Newark777 (Reply 6): If you are in a profession where you are trying to make a living off something others give away for free, maybe you should think about a better career.
Seems to work ok for hookers, why not aviation photographers? I've wondered about what it would be like to be a pro myself. I think I would rather it be a hobby than a necessity, which would undoubtedly end up being stressful and/or monotonous. People have a way of getting sick of their jobs, and it would be a shame for that to happen to something you enjoy so much. Plus, in order to get the shots that truly outrank the amateurs, you have to invest heavily in equipment and develop your craft over many years. I think you are on the right path with continuing education and a career in engineering. Let the photography become what it becomes, and if you can end up making some cash on the side, all the better.
How many do you know who are "totally" pro? I don't know more than 10 from the top of my head. Damn difficult I imagine, as in any profession I guess.
Quoting N101AA (Reply 1): You can't make a living out of this however
LOL yeah right. Whatever.
Actually, I think the term professional "aviation" photographer is a bit misplaced.
They have to present a product in the best way possible, just that their product is a Falcon 2000 or an airline or whatever. Others shoot cosmetics or jewellery, these guys shoot planes.
I think it's not so much about the experience you get on sites like A.net or likewise ones. Your customer probably won't care whether you recognize the freighter next to their Challenger has the new whatever colour scheme. You have to shoot their product, that's all that counts.
I am not a "professional" by any means, but got (lucky? enough) to get an assignment for a bizjet operator. It's not the superfancy feeling I got, even though they paid well and arranged me anything I wanted.
I got up at 4:30am, drove 3hrs to that airport, did the shooting from 8am - 3pm and then drove home 3hrs again.
They needed the pictures on the next day, so I had dinner and started the post-processing on the images. I had them all done around 12:30am, went to bed and mailed them the DVD at 8am the next day.
I'd do (and actually will do) it again, and already look forward to that, because I truly love doing that, however it's not relaxing or fancy or whatever. It's hard work, and you better don't screw up
Yes you can...been doing it for twenty years, have travelled the world doing it and being paid to do it, own my own house, a sailboat, fly gliders and bug smashers and drive a paid for mercedes...make just enough to pay my bills...it can be very rough at times, has no respect for your personal life. If you offered me a six digit stock broker job in NY I'd turn it down to stay with what I'm doing...j
PS...There exists on this site many, many talented photographers that consistently turn out outstanding images of PROFESSIONAL quality. Because they may not obtain revenue from it does not make them any less professional...But you are correct in that the fiscal investment prohibits most from elevating their hobby to a business. Think I know who you are referring too...anyone that can pay big bucks to hire choppers for fun and travel the world over BETTER come back with good photos. I can think of one individual...whose work I have only seen published twice. I can't imagine the overall investment in obtaining the few images I have seen. Can't imagine the RETURN has been worth it...j
Diezel From Netherlands, joined Oct 2002, 646 posts, RR: 12 Reply 22, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 2531 times:
I know at least one aviation photographer (if you would call it aviation) who makes money with doing what he loves.
He goes to air and car shows and takes pictures of the airplanes, cars and people which are there. He then hands them his business card which points them to a website where they can have a look at and order the pictures he took.
I don't know if its fun, but there are perks. Het gets to meet a lot of people which sometimes lead to contracts. At big shows where there is a lot of press present, the big camera brands like Nikon and Canon are usually present, selling their high-end equipment to the press photogs. He may often use that gear for a day, for free. He has a press card and is usually invited to the shows.
Is it fun? I dont know. It is probably just hard work with the usual ups and downs.
Correct!...but if your passionate about it , it is worth it...however i'm sometime jealous of fed ex drivers, good pay, friendly, health benfits...don't have to be creative ...bla bla bla...j...grass is always GREENER!